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ADA Seal of Acceptance Toothpaste on Brush

The American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance can be found on many dental products ranging from denture adhesives to toothpaste.  There are over 300 products that currently carry the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

ADA Seal - Accepted by The American Dental Association
The ADA Seal of Acceptance

The ADA Seal of Acceptance was started in 1930 to help consumers find out what products actually are effective at doing what they claim to do.

Old Toothbrush Advertisement from 1913
An Old Toothbrush Advertisement

At that time there were lots of new products being developed.  Many of the products claimed to do everything from cleaning your teeth to making you look 20 years younger.  The ADA created the seal to allow consumers to see that the claims on seal-awarded products had been validated by research and testing.

The ADA Seal of Acceptance is not a government program, it is run by the American Dental Association.  In fact, in 1984 President Ronald Reagan praised the ADA Seal program by giving the ADA a certificate of commendation.  Not all industries are able to regulate themselves so carefully without necessitating the creation of a government oversight agency.

How Does a Product Receive the ADA Seal of Acceptance?

In order for a product to receive the ADA Seal of Acceptance, it has to undergo lots of testing to make sure that it actually does what it says it will do.

The company that makes the product must submit the product information insert, ingredient lists, results of the research supporting the products effectiveness, provide evidence of good manufacturing processes, submit all packaging and advertising information about the product to the American Dental Association.

The ADA will then review the pertinent information.  Here is what the ADA has to say about the process:

More than 125 consultants, including members of the ADA’s Council on Scientific Affairs and ADA staff scientists, review and declare oral care products safe, effective and worthy of the ADA Seal. The consultants represent all fields relevant to evaluating dental products, including dental materials, microbiology, pharmacology, toxicology and chemistry. In some instances, the ADA may conduct or ask the company to conduct additional testing. Only after a product has demonstrated its safety and effectiveness will the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs award the Seal to that product.

You can view a complete list of the ADA Seal of Acceptance testing criteria on the ADA’s website.

How is the ADA Seal Different from the FDA Approved Seal?

FDA SealIf a product is FDA approved, it doesn’t mean that it is effective for dental use.  It simply means that the company has obtained permission from the FDA to manufacture and sell the product in the United States.

The ADA Seal of Acceptance on the other hand is much more comprehensive than the FDA seal of approval and actually tests the product to ensure that it does what it claims to do.

How to Find Products that are ADA Seal Accepted

There is a simple search form that you can use on the American Dental Association’s website to search for ADA-accepted products.

The following types of products can all carry the ADA Seal, provided the manufacturer has applied for it:

  • Artificial Saliva
  • Chewing Gum
  • Denture Adherents
  • Denture Cleansers
  • Floss and Interdental Cleaners
  • Mouth Rinses
  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste

Is a Product Harmful If It Doesn’t Have the ADA Seal?

There are many dental products that do not contain the ADA Seal of Acceptance.  This does not necessarily mean that they are bad.  They could be good products, but perhaps the manufacturer didn’t have the money to go through the process of obtaining the seal.  Perhaps the company doesn’t think that they need the ADA Seal to sell their product.

It could also be a “homeopathic” product that makes claims that may not be scientifically sound.  These products cannot obtain the ADA Seal of Acceptance because claims have to be backed up by scientific evidence.

I’m sure there are many more reasons why a product may not have the ADA Seal.  However, if a product is harmful, it will usually be forced off the market by a governmental regulatory agency.

ADA Seal of AcceptanceUPDATE: 3/28/2011

Here is a version of the ADA Seal that has been used as recently as 2006.  You may still see it around, so I figured that I would keep it here for informational purposes.

Note that this is simply to illustrate what the ADA Seal of Acceptance looks like, so you can make more informed choices as a consumer.

The ADA does not endorse this page and is not affiliated with Oral Answers in any way.

Do you have any questions about the ADA Seal of Acceptance?  Leave a comment below!